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Recommended Reading

There are some good books out there!

I’m an avid reader. I say that because I read about 15-20 minutes each night before bed. I guess that qualifies me as avid, right?

If you’re a cartoonist, there are some great books out there to check out. Some of them can help you visually and a few are more geared towards your mindset.

Unlike Oprah, I don’t have a book club (and not planning on having one any time soon) but here are some of my recommended readings.

I mention why I like them and think they’re a good fit.

Plus, I’ve included links below the video so you can grab a copy of any of them.

Happy reading!



How to Be Like Walt by Pat Williams

Cartooning: The Art and the Business by Mort Gerberg

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Cartooning the Head & Figure by Jack Hamm

How to Read Nancy by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden



  1. Darlene Campbell says:

    Hi Nate,
    Hope to see more of these book reviews (gives me an excuse to buy books) I have Mort’s book and love it. The others have been on my wish list. Others I like and that I have on my shelves: The Cartoonist’s Workbook by Robin Hall, Cartoonists’ & Illustrators’ Trade Secrets by Robin Hall, Cartooning by Ivan Brunetti, The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics by Blackbeard and Williams, The Naked Cartoonist by Mankoff, The Art of the Graphic Memoir by Tom Hart, How to Say Everything by Tom Hart, The Sequential Artists Workshop Guide to Creating Professional Comic Strips by Tom Hart, What It Is by Lynda Barry, Picture This by Lynda Barry, Cats,Dogs, Men, Women, Ninnies and Clowns (The Lost Art of William Steig) by Jeanne Steig and two very beautiful books: My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris (there will be a book 2) and Pretending is Lying by Dominique Goblet…you can’t ignore the art and story in either of these.
    I’d better leave it at those titles for now. Yes, do book reviews again. Plus I’d like to see a view of your book shelves! Cheers-Darlene

    1. Nathanael Fakes says:

      Hi Darlene! I love a good excuse to buy books as well, and several on your list I haven’t read yet (but actually have a few on my Wish List — so eventually I’ll get to em’). Thanks for recommending a lot of these!

      My books are so unorganized right now. I have some in books, shelves and scattered on the floor. I’m moving in a few months, so I’m hesitant to buy a new bookshelf. I promised myself I would though once I’m settled in to the new place! Maybe I can post some pics then…

      Thanks again for sharing!

      1. Darlene says:

        The good thing about moving is it is a good time to move on stuff you don’t need and a great time to treat yourself to a new bookshelf. 📚📚📚

        1. Nate Fakes says:

          You got that right 😀

  2. Tyson Cole says:

    I have to recommend The Cartoonist’s Muse by Mischa Richter! Really comprehensive look at gag writing.

    1. Nathanael Fakes says:

      Hey Tyson,

      Very cool! I actually haven’t read that one yet, but I’ll put it on my list. I love the name and sounds like it’s right up my alley.

      Thanks for the recommendation!

    2. Anonymous says:

      Thanks Tyson. I’m looking this title up now.

      1. Darlene says:

        Ha, I’m anonymous unless I type in my name and email for each reply. A shortcut?

  3. Will Dudla says:

    Hey Nate and everyone,

    First of all I LOVE this post! I asked an art director for recommendations on how to improve my post and they told me about How to Read Nancy, but had no further recommendations. This thread clears that up! 🙂

    Also, just in case you don’t have the cash to swing the Nancy book the authors have a pdf (shorter version of the book) available at this website:

    I have a few books (make that a lot) on art that I have collected over the years and stared at mostly, but I recently acquired some cartoon/comic strip related books that are really good. Also have some recommendations that help with life as an artist as well.

    Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schultz
    – really great book on both a bit of insight into his creative process and also a look at the evolution of the strip from over the years.

    The Animator’s Survival Kit – Richard Williams
    – Have wanted to get this book for a long time now. Finally got it and I cannot put it down (it actually made me put the other book I was reading on the back burner). Though it has to do with animation, the history and thought process to add life to one’s cartoon strips is priceless.

    Humongous Book of Cartooning – Christopher Hart
    -Just got this one and did some quick reading. Good info on, well, basically everything related to cartooning/character design (adding this as a second “here, here” for Darlene’s recommending his books up above).

    Atomic Habits – James Clear
    – On first glance this one is wayyy off base. However, he talks about how we shape ourselves and our habits and how to change them little by little to achieve better habits. Why does this have to do with art? Well if you want to get better, hit deadlines, build a business, etc. then this book is invaluable. Procrastination is one of an artist’s biggest demons, so this can help. Plus it’s a very fast read.

    The only other recommendation that I have for books are to pick up any of the compilations of Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, Charlie Brown, B.C (one of the most forgotten strips :() etc. Just read, enjoy and soak up the knowledge on display.

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